Having spent the last eight years living in megacities (Delhi and then Mexico City, where we are now), we’ve taken whatever chance we can to get outside and walk in the countryside all the while breathing lungfuls of fresh air. Often this takes place back in England when visiting family, or in France and the beautiful countryside surround the picturesque Alpine village of Morzine.
I also took the kids trekking in Nepal when the oldest two were aged 4- and 2-years old. Granted, the youngest did not do much walking on this trip but my then four-year-old tackled the lower Himalayas with gusto…and the promise of sweets! So, although we are not a family of hardcore hikers, we like to walk and we’ve been dragging the kids with us since they were little.
To date, the kids have only really had standard trainers for exploring the Great Outdoors and my husband and I have tried a variety of trainer-type hiking shoes with moderate success. So, when Millets contacted us recently asking if we would like to try some of their new walking shoes, I immediately said yes. And, given that we won’t be yomping around in the British countryside until later this summer, we decided to road test them in Mexico City instead.
Walking Shoes for Kids
My oldest two kids were each given a pair of Penrith Mid Waterproof walking boots by HI TEC and they loved them. We tried them out in our neighbourhood of Condesa, on a school field trip and in the Centro Historico of Mexico City. If the kids had had their way, they would have worn them to school too, but they didn’t quite meet uniform requirements!
The official blurb on these HI TEC shoes are as follows:
- They are lightweight and breathable
- They are waterproof
- They come with an EVA insole that provides shock absorption
- Wicking performance – to transfer sweat away and keep little feet cool
- The rubber outsole prevents slipping
We managed to test out all the above features apart from the waterproof element as the rainy season has yet to arrive in Mexico’s capital. First of all, the shoes really are very lightweight. The kids ran, climbed, jumped and walked in them and said that the shoes were incredibly comfortable. My eldest even rode his bike wearing his HI TEC shoes. My daughter also walked around the centre of Mexico City for hours with me in 28C heat and never once complained that her feet were hot.
I personally really like the look of these shoes too. Despite the obvious ‘blue for boys and pink for girls’, they are stylish and do not look like your typical, traditional hiking boot. And to be fair, the pink on the girl’s boot is more of a dark purple than a Princess pink – which made my non-girlie daughter happy! The shoe also provides good ankle support, which will serve the kids well when walking in the hills this summer. I’ve read a couple of reviews where people have said that the sizes came out big but we ordered the kids’ normal size and they fit perfectly.
The other thing that I really like about these shoes, and HI TEC in general, is that they are socially responsible. The company are active in their support of the Black Mambas, an anti-poaching unit made up of all-female rangers from just outside the Balule Nature Reserve in South Africa. In addition to financial support, HI TEC have provided each of the Black Mambas with a pair of boots to keep their feet comfortable when patrolling the reserve. Each pair of HI TEC shoes that you buy comes with a special tag detailing the company’s support of the anti-poaching campaign. I’m a firm believer that if you have a choice when buying something, go for the company that is giving something back.
Walking Shoes for Men & Women
My husband and I were each given a pair of Country Hiker Shoes by Brasher to test out. Given that I can’t remember when I last bought a pair of walking shoes, I was welcome of a new pair! Again, we tested these out on the streets of Mexico City, and my husband also wore them during his travels on a transatlantic flight.
Brasher have been making walking shoes, and their best selling brown hiking boots, since the 1970s. Best known for its Hillmaster GTX, this is a company that knows how to make comfortable walking shoes. The country hiker shoes that we tried out are less traditional walking boots and more along the lines of a trail running shoe, albeit a little chunkier and sturdier.
Let me start by saying that these are really comfortable. We pounded the pavements of the urban jungle and ended the day with happy feet. They are heavier than your normal trainer so my feet did get quite warm but then these are not necessarily made for exploring a major capital when it’s 28C and sunny.
Rather the Country Hiker Shoe has been designed for walks along country trails and I think they would be brilliant for these. I would also argue that they are sturdy and supportive enough to tackle tougher treks.
The Country Hiker Shoe comes with the following features:
- Waterproof – rain protection with a breathable performance to keep you dry and comfortable on the trail.
- Vibram® outsole – unbeatable grip on all terrain including wet and rocky trails.
- Cushioned underfoot – the EVA midsole provides added comfort and support.
- Comfortable footbed – the PU footbded offers a lightweight and flexible construction.
- Nubuck toe and heel counter – for added durability.
Again, we didn’t get the chance to test how waterproof the shoes are but in terms of grip and support, these are great walking shoes. The men and women’s versions are virtually the same although I have to admit that I was somewhat jealous of the cool, grey colour my husband had. I know walking shoes are not meant to be fashionable but I do think that the men’s dark grey hiker shoe was aesthetically more pleasing than my brown ones! Sartorial preferences aside, however, we were really happy with both sets of shoes and are looking forward to using them more on our travels this summer.
Disclosure: We were given the HI TEC and Brasher shoes by Millets for the purpose of this review. All opinions are, as always, entirely my own.
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